By HOWIE RUMBERG, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Grady Sizemore hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning and the Boston Red Sox finally gave Jon Lester enough run support for his first win of the year, 4-2 over the New York Yankees on Friday night.
Jonny Gomes led off the sixth with another long ball off CC Sabathia, and the four-run inning was more runs than Boston had scored for Lester in his first two starts combined. Despite a 2.51 ERA coming in, Lester was at risk of falling to 0-3 for the first time in his career.
The left-hander was lifted with two outs in the seventh after Kelly Johnson singled to pull the Yankees within two runs, his first hit in 15 career at-bats against Lester (1-2). Junichi Tazawa relieved with runners at the corners and retired Derek Jeter on a flyout.
Jeter was the leadoff batter in the Yankees’ batting order for first time since breaking his left ankle in the 2012 AL championship series opener. He beat out an infield single in four at-bats.
Lester allowed Alfonso Soriano’s homer starting the second and six hits overall. He walked two and struck out six in improving to 12-5 in 27 starts against New York.
Tazawa pitched 1 1-3 innings of one-hit relief, and Edward Mujica was perfect in the ninth for his first save with Boston. Closer Koji Uehara was bothered by shoulder stiffness before the game and was held out as a precaution.
Sabathia (1-2) pitched without the controversy that surrounded teammate Michael Pineda in a series-opening 4-1 win Thursday but also without the same success. Pineda gave up one run and four hits in six-plus innings but was caught on camera with a brown substance on his hand. Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for baseball operations, said in a statement Friday that Pineda will not be suspended.
Looking as if he was setting aside talk of being an ace on the decline, Sabathia was dominant for five innings. He allowed just David Ross’ third-inning double until Gomes led off the sixth with his first homer of the year, on an 89 mph four-seam fastball.
Four batters later, Sizemore crushed an 80 mph slider into right field for a 4-1 lead.
Sabathia’s fastball velocity has declined from 94.1 mph in 2009, his first season in New York, to 89.7 mph this year entering Friday. Last year he gave up 45 of his major league-leading 122 runs on a career-high 28 homers allowed. He’s already yielded five this season.
Sabathia allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking two. He’s given up at least four runs in each of his three starts and has a 6.63 ERA.
New York staked Sabathia to a 1-0 lead on Soriano’s drive to left field, his 408th homer. Thanks to some nifty shifts by both teams, the score stayed that way until the sixth.
NOTES: Former Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Thornton were given their World Series rings in a meeting with Boston GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell before the game. … Yankees manager Joe Girardi said 1B Mark Teixeira (right hamstring) should be off the disabled list before May 1 but SS Brendan Ryan (back) is doubtful for the beginning of next month. … Red Sox OF Shane Victorino took BP and did some light running. Farrell says he’ll have an idea about a rehab assignment for Victorino after the White Sox series early next week. … Dellin Betances struck out the side in the ninth for New York. … Next up: Boston’s John Lackey (2-0) faces New York’s Hiroki Kuroda (1-1).
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